Food banks distributed food to a record number of needy persons in 2017, the Federation of Food Banks announced on Friday, while appealing for public donations to offset the increasing need for assistance. Given the higher demand, the federation, which is celebrating 30 years of existence, has had to adapt its resources, mainly by increasing its storage and conservation capacity. It is thus launching a new campaign and appealing to the population for donations.
In 2017, the food banks provided food for 157,151 needy persons, up from 143,287 in 2016. It distributed 16,488 tonnes of food as against 15,094 in 2016. The Federation said it was alarmed by the increase in its activities in recent years.
In Belgium, 1 in 7 inhabitants – and 1 in 7 children – is exposed to the risk of poverty. The number of beneficiaries of social assistance registered by the Public Social Services Centres, CPAS, has also been on the increase, going up by 9.3% in 2016, according to data from the Inter-federal poverty barometer, relayed by the food banks.
“This anniversary gives us mixed feelings,” the federation’s managing director, Jef Mottar, said. “On one hand, we are proud of our collaborators and the results achieved after 30 years. On the other hand, our sincerest wish is, in fact, to be no longer necessary.
“Every year, the number of people recognized as needy and whom we are supposed to help keeps going up, increasing by 30% in five years and 45% in 10 years.”
With the increased need for assistance, the federation is calling for donations. “Every donation of one euro represents 6.5 kg. of food,” Federation President Ignace Bosteels pointed out. “A tax-deductible donation of 40 euros corresponds to an assistance equivalent to 260 kgs of food.”
The food banks are launching their new campaign, #socialbank, on 19 and 20 January, at the Place de la Monnaie in Brussels, unveiling their new slogan: “Feed solidarity”. In their campaign, they are also proposing a new way to donate – by texting “FOOD” to 3060. Each SMS is a contribution of 2 euros.